Adolescent self-harm prevention and intervention in secondary schools: A survey of staff in England and Wales
Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Wiley / Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH)
Reason for embargo
Currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by Wiley.12 month embargo to be applied on publication
Background: Adolescent self-harm is a major public health concern. To date there is a limited evidence-base for prevention or intervention, particularly within the school setting. To develop effective approaches, it is important to first understand the school context, including existing provision, barriers to implementation, and the acceptability of different approaches. Methods: A convenience sample of 222 secondary schools in England and Wales were invited to participate in a survey, with a 68.9% (n=153) response rate. One member of staff completed the survey on behalf of each school. Participants responded to questions on the existing provision of adolescent self-harm prevention and intervention, barriers to delivery, and future needs. Results: Adolescent self-harm is an important concern for senior management and teachers, However, emotional health and wellbeing is the primary health priority for schools. Health services, such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and on-site counselling are the main approaches schools currently use to address adolescent self-harm, with counselling cited as the most useful provision. Fifty-three percent of schools have received some staff training on adolescent self-harm, although only 22% rated the adequacy of this training as high. Where schools do not have existing provision, respondents stated that they would like staff training, specialist student training, external speakers and posters, although the latter three options were infrequently ranked as the most useful approaches. Key barriers to addressing adolescent self-harm were: lack of time in the curriculum; lack of resources; lack of staff training and time; and fear of encouraging self-harm amongst adolescents. Conclusions: Adolescent self-harm is a priority for schools. Intervention might focus on increasing the availability of training to teaching staff.
This study was funded by the GW4 Accelerator Fund. The work was undertaken with the support of the School Health Research Network, a partnership between DECIPHer, Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and Cancer Research UK, funded by Health and Care Research Wales via the National Centre for Health and Wellbeing Research. The work was undertaken with the support of the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Joint funding (MR/KO232331/1) from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, Welsh Government and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged.
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